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Bio-CNG: A viable solution to India’s various problems

Bio-CNG: A viable solution to India’s various problems
Highlights

On the 16th of June, 2015, the government of India officially published an amendment to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, under sub-section (1)...

On the 16th of June, 2015, the government of India officially published an amendment to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, under sub-section (1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The amendment is a landmark step, which will officially recognize bio-CNG as fuel for use in public transport vehicles.


Bio-CNG is a term used for biogas, which is treated under high pressure to obtain a gas with a similar composition to that of CNG derived from fossil fuel.
Biogas is a form of green energy produced by digesting organic matter like decomposable waste through a process called anaerobic digestion, which is an effective way of dealing with the millions of tonnes of solid wet waste generated in the country every day.

The most significant impact of this policy will be improving general public health, boosting environment policies and economically benefiting various industries overtime. It is important to note that unlike limited natural resources like petroleum and natural gas, which are becoming dearer by the day, the potential to produce biogas, which is chiefly generated from solid wet waste, will only increase. India will generate over 400 million tonnes of solid waste/year by 2050, up 550% from the total waste generation today.

Currently over 90% of the potential of generating biogas in the country remains untapped due to the lack of supportive policies and infrastructure. The potential of biogas generation in the country is 1.3 million cubic meters of biogas per day. This amount would be enough to support a major chunk of public transport in the country.

The economic benefits that biogas will bring to the public transport industry includes lowering running costs and dependence on expensive petroleum based fuels like petrol and diesel. Biogas is a viable replacement to natural gas, which is currently used in public transport, as biogas has the same calorific value and purity of more than 92% methane.

A recent study conducted in Sweden shows that biogas generates 95% less greenhouse gas emissions than traditional fossil fuels. Studies have shown that with a few tweaks to the technology, the number could jump up to 120%, rendering biogas more than climate neutral.

If utilized efficiently, biogas has the potential to substitute a large chunk of vehicle fuel in the country and enable sustainable processes in solid waste management and transport that could have a significant impact across sectors.Use of biogas for public transport is already being successfully implemented in countries like the UK, Sweden and other countries in northern Europe. Norway even imports waste from other countries to produce energy.

With the dire situation in India regarding our environment policies and limited resources, biogas can be the answer we have been waiting for.
Author: Col. Suresh Rege
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